As you can see it has been a few months since I have written a blog. Life happens, gets busy, then my illness rises, then I get better, then life happens etc...repeat...
Then I think about writing then I get overwhelmed,then nothing happens. I imagine this sounds familiar to many of you out there. Then I think about writing about dissociation, then I think,,where do I start....I ask myself "there is already so much out there, what can I add to it?"
So, in the wee hours of the night a thought came to me. Dissociative Identity Disorder is often seen as this rare, exotic, bizarre, false illness. Let me assure you that it is none of these. There are tons of study's, actually many decades worth of studies, all over the world that explain, prove, discuss and prove the validity of this condition. I will attach a link below that you can look into if you want to find out more. Don't even get me going on what Wikipedia has on it- its so wrong....
Last week I was with a working group that I am on. Its for child and youth mental health and substance use, and how we can make improvements for our children and youth. In this working group was a doctor and I was explaining what D.I.D. was, and I said..."one to three percent of the general population has D.I.D." - she replied "one percent of the population is not rare or a small amount." And thats very true, but this is one of the very many misconception of this condition.
What is also a misconception is that dissociation is a bad thing!
What I mean by this is that while, for me, dissociation was interfering with the quality of my life, creating chaos, affecting my relationships, my family and friends etc. It's original purpose was to help me survive, and it did just that.
D.I.D.'s one and only purpose is to help a child - usually before the age of 7- to survive overwhelming circumstances. These are children that may experience abuse, disorganized attachment to their caregivers, children living in a civil war or refugee camp or children who have, at a very young age, undergone multiple medical procedures. We now realize that neglect is as harmful to a child as abuse is, and affects the brain and self worth of a child.
We also now know that through the study of the A.C.E's - The Adverse Childhood Experience scale- that trauma affects a person throughout their lifetime... it can affect their health and folks who have had trauma have a higher rate of heart disease, diabetic, high blood pressure, weight issues, drug and alcohol use etc.
And while we are starting to understand this, there is still the reluctance to address dissociation, and I think its because folks are confused and scared of what they don't know. Calling it by its old name " "multiply personality disorder' didn't help, and for some reason, some folks seem to want to keep using that term- which is one of my pet peeves.
So back to what can I say, that the studies have not said, or that folks have not studied etc. One advantage I do have, is living with this condition,
I have told many folks that when I was first diagnosed I thought "Thank Christ I'm not crazy." then I promptly thought " Wholly shit I must be crazy." because the only understanding or perception I had was what I had learned from the media and Hollywood.
What I didn't realize was that dissociation was a very creative tool that helped me survive. I also didn't realize, that physiologically I had absoloutley no control over this happening. When the trauma happened this was a natural response, totally involuntary, I had absolutely no control over this. Learning that helped me in so many ways.
When one experiences abuse, one - well at least I did- I often felt shame because I didn't stop it from happening, I didn't prevent it etc. I didn't stop it from happening to my siblings, or mom etc. I held a huge bag of shame for decades around this, then felt shame for dissociating- because it was interfering with my life, and there was something wrong with me- thats how I felt. Luckily my psychiatrist believed differently.
What I didn't know was that I could not stop dissociating as a child if I wanted to. It was a natural response to the trauma, The brain, nervous systems, chemicals etc had already made a deal this is what they would do if bad things were happening to me that were overloading me. If you think about it, this is the genius of dissociation.
Learning about D.I.D., or that you have D.I.D. can be overwhelming, scary, frightening etc. I hope this blog post helps you have a better understanding of the genius that is dissociation, that it is a natural response to overwhelming trauma and that it very likely saved your life.
Those are my thoughts for today, take good care of yourself, and give yourself lots of love and compassion , this can be a difficult journey. With hard work and the right supports, it can get so much better.
Be good to yourself, you deserve it
Cheers and be well